A vast improvement in form during the next four league games against Jersey, Bedford, Coventry and Ealing is urgently required if Doncaster are to avoid a repeat of the heavy defeat by an enterprising Cornish Pirates.
Once again, Doncaster, outplayed by five tries to three, suffered injuries which may prevent influential figures in the Knights’ pack, Ollie Stedman, Matt Smith and Robin Hislop, playing in Jersey on Friday.
While Doncaster scored three well-constructed tries by full-back John McPhillips, winger Tyson Lewis and replacement hooker George Edgson, overall, they were second best in terms of territory and use of possession, and lacked an individual match winner enjoyed by Pirates.
Their Argentine fly-half, Javier Alvarez, dominated events in both halves and scored 24 points courtesy of five conversions and three penalties.
Doncaster started promisingly as McPhillips completed a fine move by scoring in the corner after only five minutes, but after that, the first half was largely controlled by Pirates who broke through three times courtesy of Alvarez, centre Nicolas De Battista and forward Brett Beukeboom who was driven over.
In between, the Knights fought back when Lewis’s pace down the touchline cut the Pirates’ lead to 17-10, and though a penalty by fly- half Sam Olver reduced the gap to 24-15, such a competitive team as the Pirates were unlikely to let this control disappear.
On 46 minutes Alvarez, for the second time, chipped ahead to create a try – on this occasion for winger Alex O’Meara, with the Argentine converting.
An Olver penalty followed by Edgson’s try, converted by the former, cut the gap to six points before a late try by Callum Patterson secured the win.
Doncaster Knights: McPhillips (Cowell 60), Evans, Lucock, Foley (Hayes 70), Lewis, Olver, James (Reiss 79), Hislop, Hunter (Edgson 54), Quigley (Foster 60), Hicks, Smith (Calladine 44), Eames, Hills, Stedman (Sproston 60).
Cornish Pirates: Cant, O’Meara, Patterson, De Battista (Wedlake-Millecam 60), Holden, Alvarez, Schwarz (Davies 60 Walker, Cowan-Dickie (Channon 13), Tyack (Mitchell 60), Cutmore, Beukeboom, Lemalu (Bolwell 8), Stevens (McRae 54), Wilson.